1/32 Wingnut Wings Roland D VIb

Gallery Article by Mike Muth on Apr 30 2018



Roland was the trade name adopted by the German manufacturer LFG in 1914. Roland and Albatros pretty much pioneered the use of wooden fuselages for German Airplanes in World War I. Pfalz adopted wooden fuselages for its own designs after sub-contracting to build some of the early Roland bi-plane fighters. The technique used on the Roland D VI fighters was called Klinkerrumpf, or clinker built. Overlapping thin strips of spruce over a light wooden framework provided a light weight yet sturdy airframe. Germany held annual fighter competitions to see which designs would be purchased and ordered into production. The Roland D VI competed against, among others, the Fokker D VII in the January, 1918 fighter competition. While the D VII won the competition, the Roland was also ordered into production. The DVI was either designated D VIa if powered by the 6 cylinder Mercedes or D VIb if power by the 6 cylinder Benz. Like all German fighters the standard armament was 2 Spandau machine guns synchronized to fire through the propeller.

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Like all WNW kits, there is much to praise and little to criticize. I know very little about this particular airplane other than what I learned from the instructions. There is a Windsock Datafile but I didn't have it in my library. You really don't need any references other than the kit instructions to build an accurate model. The D VIb I chose had the fuselage painted in a banded pattern with the wings covered in lozenge printed fabric. This provides a nice contrast once the model is completed. The colors used by Roland are arranged in 2 different patterns on the fuselage. On the left side, the colors run front to back as follows: dark blue, dark green, ochre (beige) and purple. On the right side, the colors are reversed: purple, ochre (beige), dark green and dark blue. The colors meet roughly at the midpoint on the top and bottom of the fuselage. I used Tamiya paints for the fuselage. While most WW I aircraft seem to have sharp demarcations between colors, the D VI has more of a sprayed on, soft blend.

The lozenge fabric that was applied to German airplanes during the last year of the war was not painted on, but dyed in either 4 or 5 color patterns. Often times there would be a mix of 4 and 5 colored lozenge on a single plane. The plane I chose, option D, had a mix of both. This wasn't hard to do, just follow the instructions for which pattern goes where. This particular D VIb was in American hands at the end of the War. There are 2 good photos in the instructions which, along with the rigging diagram, help keep things clear when rigging the plane. 

Everyone who rigs airplanes seems to settle on a technique that works for them. As for me, I mostly use a thin silver colored thread that I supplement with ceramic wire. Most of the rigging is done with the thread. For this build, I applied the lozenge decals to both sides of the top wing and the top of the bottom wing after painting the wings a dark gloss blue. I also drilled the locating holes for the rigging before applying the lozenge. I left off the under wing lozenge on the bottom wing until after rigging was completed. Anyway, back to rigging. I drill a pilot hole part way through the top wing. I drill the receiving hole all the way through the bottom wing. It helps a little bit to run the thread through the receiving hole prior to applying glue to the end that runs into the pilot hole. Once all the holes are drilled, I apply a small amount of ca to one end of the thread and put it into the pilot hole. I do this with all of the pilot holes. After the glue and thread have time to set/harden, I place a heavy locking tweezer to the end of the thread that now is hanging loose under the bottom wing. Then, apply a small drop of ca to the hole in the bottom wing and let the weighted thread set for around 5 minutes. Cut off the excess thread after the ca has a chance to harden and that's it. Once all of the rigging is done, I then apply the lozenge decal to the underside of the bottom wing and, with luck, everything looks clean. For the rigging where due to location or difficulty this system won't work, I use ceramic wire. This stuff is great, always straight and can be applied with ca to tight spaces. I have trouble with WNW landing gears. They always seem a little wobbly to me. So I rig the landing gear with a thicker than usual wire; a little off scale, but it provides sturdiness.

That's it for the Roland. A straight forward build that shouldn't scare anyone off from building a biplane. The rigging is a little complex, but if you have rigged one or two biplanes you shouldn't run into any problems.

Mike Muth

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Photos and text by Mike Muth